We had two incredible days of ministry in West Virginia. We were working in a very beautiful place, in a small town called Richwood. The mountains rose up very high around the town and close. Early in the mornings, mist hung low on the mountains and covered their tops. The trees are tall and beautiful against a bright blue sky. This area of West Virginia is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen. God’s incredible creation screams His name, but many are not listening.
At one time, this place was very wealthy. Everyone wanted to live there, but the coal that made the place rich is long gone. The factories are all closed, and there is not one store that is open on Main Street. Now anyone who can leave has left. Those who remain are hopeless; there are no jobs and no opportunities. You cannot sell your house, because no one wants to live there. It has one of the biggest drug problems in the entire state. It is broken and forgotten, but God never forgets. We came to this same town and worked last year, but all of these problems have increased. The hopelessness has grown. It is a very dark place. It seems that the enemy is winning, so I beg you to pray. Several different Christian groups have targeted this community with outreaches. I see the day when God makes Richwood His town, but you must pray. You must not forget!
The people in this town do not see their need for God. We partnered the people a wonderful church from Subligna, Georgia, which is two miles from my house. They went door to door the day before we got there and invited everyone to the puppet shows we were doing. Some people slammed the doors in their faces, others refused to get up and come to the door even though they could be seen sitting there. At every stop, they tried to talk about Jesus with the people they met. One person told them, “I don’t want Jesus!” This really upset one of the little boys who was with the group. His grandfather is the pastor of the church, and he came back and talked to him. The little boy said, “How could anyone not want Jesus?” This same question is always on my heart.
Richwood is full of people who have no time for God but make time for other things that will destroy them. However, some precious few did listen and respond. One lady who is addicted to drugs asked Jesus to be her Savior. Five children and one older lady responded to the Gospel at one of our puppet shows. A fifteen-year-old boy prayed to receive Christ on the street with our friends from Subligna Baptist. Please pray for all of these new believers. Please ask God to make them strong in their faith.
At one show, we gave Bibles to some of the children. One little boy came the next day and told me he had already read one of the stories. He said, “It was really good!” His surprise made me smile. I know the Bible is a good book, but I think most people are surprised when they find out how good it is.
I love this place! I believe that God can win in the lives of these people. I know that He is their only hope just like He is my only hope. I see their smiles and I hear their laughter as they watch the puppets. I remember the looks on their faces as they listened to children’s Bible stories that most of the adults in the room had never heard. I think of one young woman who was listening to me tell the story of the prodigal son. I love the way this story ends with the son being welcomed home by his father, even though he had failed so miserably. I told everyone that in the same way, God is waiting to welcome us into His home if we will put our trust in Jesus.
I knew the young woman’s story who was listening, and I knew she would struggle with the idea of God being a good Father. Her own father abused her and was continuing to abuse her. Her mother killed herself in front of her. She struggled to believe that God was good, and she had no understanding of what a father should be. I told the story of a little girl I know who had a father who did many things he should not have done. I talked about the pain of his ugly words and how the little girl ached to have a daddy who would really love her. The little one found her daddy when she trusted in Jesus and God became her Father. As I finished sharing this story and gave the invitation, I was hoping that the young woman who was listening would choose life. As far as I know, she did not put her trust in Jesus. Please continue to pray for her and for the people of Richwood.
Presently, we are on our way to Massachusetts and will do our last program of the summer on Sunday morning at a Congregationalist church. Please ask God to make us bright lights for Him. Please pray for Kelsey as she has left us to go home for orientation at Shorter College. Mary has also had to go home to attend to some medical concerns. Please pray for Ireland, as we are leaving on August 5th.
Linda for Drake, Billy, and Leslie